Monday, July 23, 2012

Bitches and Blaggards: Lizabeth Scott and Jack Palance

This is the seventh in the "Bitches and Blaggards" series; monthly posts devoted to my favorite movie bad girls and rogues A bitch is a selfish, malicious woman. A blaggard is a villain, a rogue and a black-hearted man. Both are bad, both are devastatingly alluring.


Lizabeth Scott
After watching and listening to Lizabeth Scott in anything, I feel as though I have just smoked a pack of cigarettes. No other actress fits the word “smoky” better than Liz. Although she is often compared to both Lauren Bacall and Veronica Lake (Paramount called her “the Threat” as a means to keep both actresses in line), Lizabeth Scott is uniquely a noir-ish babe with the muss of real life clinging to her. She was usually the girl pal of the story, but in a few films she really got to show she was a class "A" bitch.


Too Late For Tears
Oh, baby, this is the one. In "Too Late For Tears," Lizabeth Scott gets to play one of the most evil women in film and she does it with both girlish glee and gusto. As Jane Palmer, she is a dissatisfied gal whose prayers are answered when a suitcase of cash suddenly lands in her car. Trouble is, the crooks who stole it want it back. She shoots her husband, poisons the cop who tries to help her and, before  meeting the fate that all bad girls must ultimately meet, she gets to go on a big spending spree and live high on the hog. You gotta love this gal.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
The film starred Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin, but 2 newcomers, Kirk Douglas and Lizabeth Scott, made lasting impressions. Cast as Toni Marachek, she's the gal who, just sprung from jail, is already in trouble for violating her parole. In order to help herself, she sets up an innocent man, but, hey, a babe has to do what a babe has to do.


Jack Palance

When it comes to a black heart, Jack Palance could play the character with the blackest. When it came to charm, well, once you get past the fear factor, I guess he could charm the buzzards out of the trees.


With the cruelly handsome face and physique of a fighter, Jack Palance was a good actor and even has the Academy Award to prove it. He was always a tough guy and could play a good tough guy, but very few could do crazy bad like Jack Palance. 2 of my favorite crazy bad Jack Palance performances are in “Sudden Fear” and “Shane.”



Sudden Fear
As Lester Blaine, Palance is the rejected actor who plans the ultimate revenge. Joan Crawford, in one of her last good roles, portrays a playwright who, though rejecting Lester for an acting part in her upcoming play, later falls for and marries him. This is pretty stupid on her part, since Lester’s duplicity oozes off him like a BP rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Once he learns that Joan intends to leave her considerable fortune to charity, he enlists chick-on-the-side Gloria Grahame (boy do these 2 deserve one another) to help murder Joan. Joan figures it out and the 2 love-baddies get theirs, but the stench of Jack’s menace lingers.

Shane

Playing psycho-gunslinger Jack Wilson, Palance is a disturbing presence that sets the drama on its ear. Sure, Shane is a good guy, but how much good is needed to overcome the pure evil of Jack Wilson? For him, murder is not a business, nor a necessity. No, for him it is a pleasure – one he gets positively giddy about. I guess you could say he was a man passionately devoted to his craft. Every good guy needs a bad guy, and Jack Palance as Jack Wilson wears the biggest, blackest hat in town.

City Slickers
Since he was such a good actor, its hard to separate the real Jack Palance from his image. Thank goodness, then, for “City Slickers.” As Curly, he is a tough guy, but his scary-tough act is played for laughs.


For this role he won his only Oscar (and treated viewers to the unforgettable moment of his one-armed push up). I’ll bet he was a sweetie, after all. Ya think?


8 comments:

readerman said...

Your comment about smoking a pack of cigs is so funny. Nice post.

Dawn said...

I'm a huge fan of, Jack Palance. I always thought he was an over actor.(Which, is what I love about him)..

I think the first time I saw him, it was in one of my mother's soaps, when I got home from school..

Diane said...

Wow that was a lot of fun and filled with lots of things I did not know.
Keep up the good blogs. I just love your work.

silverscreenings said...

I love how you started this post. That is SO TRUE!!

This is a great series.

FlickChick said...

Readerman - she almost makes me cough!

FlickChick said...

Hi Dawn. I had no idea Jack was in soaps!

FlickChick said...

Thank you, Diane!

FlickChick said...

She should be in one of those non-smoking PSAs - I used to be a soprano...